Screening of the ‘Stasis Box’ identifies two kinase inhibitors under pharmaceutical development with activity against Haemonchus contortus
Protein kinases regulate a plethora of essential signalling and other biological pathways in all eukaryotic organisms, but very little is known about them in most parasitic nematodes. Here, we defined, for the first time, the entire complement of protein kinases (kinome) encoded in the barber’s pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) through an integrated analysis of transcriptomic and genomic datasets using an advanced bioinformatic workflow. We identified, curated and classified 432 kinases representing ten groups, 103 distinct families and 98 subfamilies. A comparison of the kinomes of H. contortus and Caenorhabditis elegans (a related, free-living nematode) revealed considerable variation in the numbers of casein kinases, tyrosine kinases and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinases, which likely relate to differences in biology, habitat and life cycle between these worms. Moreover, a suite of kinase genes was selectively transcribed in particular developmental stages of H. contortus, indicating central roles in developmental and reproductive processes. In addition, using a ranking system, drug targets (n = 13) and associated small-molecule effectors (n = 1517) were inferred. The H. contortus kinome will provide a useful resource for fundamental investigations of kinases and signalling pathways in this nematode, and should assist future anthelmintic discovery efforts; this is particularly important, given current drug resistance problems in parasitic nematodes.